Friday, February 5, 2016

Steve Mason Played His 150th Game As a Flyer Last Night

Happy Friday! We made it. And the Flyers won again last night. And Wing Bowl is this morning. And it's a goddamn winter wonderland outside.

Everything is coming up Philadelphia, and it's beautiful. I'm not going to recap the game - I'd direct you to Sons Of Penn, Broad Street Hockey, and Barstool Philly for that. But I did see a tweet last night that made me think:
So, obviously, we're going to rank those ten goalies in order of how much we like them.

10. Pete Peeters (179 games played)

He was more into swimming than hockey growing up, and he had one good season in orange and black. Then he was traded to Boston. He returned just in time to lose his job to Rox Hextall (who may or may not be somewhere on this list). Pete Peeters is a great name, but the goalie Pete Peeters is at the bottom of this list.

9. Doug Favell (215 games played)

Like Peeters, the most notable piece of Favell's story is the guy he lost the job to (like Hextall, that guy will also probably find his way onto this list). He was good enough to play the third-most games in franchise history, but you're never going to see anyone with a Doug Favell jersey in the Wells Fargo parking lot.

8. Antero Nittymaki (161 games played)

Nittymaki came out of the gate really hot, winning all three of his starts in his first year with the team (Robert Esche, who did not make this list, was injured). He was a promising young goalie and the future was as bright as could be.

So, naturally, the Flyers traded for Sean Burke and sent Nittymaki back to the minors for two years.

That lettuce on Cechmanek, wowwee
7. Roman Cechmanek (163 games played)

I still can't believe he only played three seasons in Philly. I feel like he was around for my whole childhood, just headbutting the puck out of harm's way every night.

The definition of bipolar, he was the best goalie in the world on some nights and he should have been sitting in the 200 level on others. In that respect, he encapsulated Flyers hockey: it's a goddamn rollercoaster, and we love every minute of it.

6. Wayne Stephenson (165 games played)

This may be a bit too high for Stephenson, but he was the backstop in the victory against the Soviet Red Army team, and that's one of the best Flyers stories ever. But, he loses points because that game inflated his ego and he held out for a raise, which management, uh, frowned upon.

5. Steve Mason (150 games played)

My initial thought in sticking Mason here was it's too high. How can he be fifth on the all-time goaltenders list for a franchise that's been around for almost 50 years?

Well, I have two answers: first, the Flyers have seemingly always had problems with their goaltending. Second, the comeback story of Mason coming to Philly (and his prospects for the future) means that if he backstops the team to any success in the next year or two, he's an all-time great.

4. Brian Boucher (174 games played)

Now we're getting into the actual all-time greats. Bouch may be the most likable goalie I've ever been able to watch in person. And now, his presence in my living room once a week on CSN Philly reminds me of how much I liked having him in net.

I think part of my nostalgia comes from the fact that he played in Philly for the first time when I was 7 years old, and then played his last game in orange when I was 20. That's an incredible span, and I'm just now realizing that I can add Bouch's career to the list of things that I grew up with (the other thing on that list is Harry Potter).

One note: even when he was in Phoenix, I was always up-to-date with how he was doing. This is the first time I've been okay with the incessant "Former Flyer" updates from the team's beat writers.

3. Pelle Lindbergh (157 games played)

I won't pretend to be a good enough writer to do Lindbergh's story the justice it deserves. Read this SI story or this story from Dave Isaac of the Courier Post. It's tragic, it was senseless, and it's always going to be an emotional subject for Philadelphia.

Let's move on to the final two spots on the list, and take a look at how they've grown up since their playing days.

Image result for bernie parentImage result for bernie parentImage result for ron hextallImage result for ron hextall

1a. Bernie Parent (486 games played)
1. Ron Hextall (489 games played)

You ran rank these two in whichever order you prefer. Bernie was the original cornerstone. Hextall is the face of the current rebuild. Both of them had sweet mustaches back in the day but have grown up and now prefer goatees.

Combined, they played in more than a quarter of the games that they Flyers have ever played.

I'd love to just call this a tie and celebrate the two best goalies in Flyers history. But, I have to pick a winner, and I pick Hextall for two reasons.

First, he's currently orchestrating one of the best on-the-fly rebuilds in recent sports memory. And second, he holds the top three spots in the all-time Goaltender Penalty Minutes In A Season list.

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